The care and safety of Mary and Jesus (our Savior) was entrusted to an ordinary man who received a gift that he neither asked for nor wanted. The importance of Joseph in God’s plan of salvation is unfathomable. As a righteous man, one who honored the law and lived uprightly, Joseph had to accept some devastating circumstances in order to obey God. He was engaged to Mary, which meant they were legally bound to each other even though their union had not been consummated. When Mary was found to be with child, and Joseph knew it was not his, his reputation, relationships and future were all on the line. He must have been terribly hurt, disappointed and disillusioned. Had he divorced her quietly, as he first intended to do, he could have salvaged his reputation, but proceeding with the marriage and determining to raise the child as his own meant giving up all that he had worked and hoped for. It also meant that his family, friends and the community would look upon him as one who failed, fell by the way—one who had sinned and was forced to bear the shame. Though all we know of Joseph surrounds the birth of Jesus and Joseph’s efforts to protect the baby and mother, we must draw the conclusion that he was an amazing earthly father. Jesus became a carpenter, walking in Joseph’s footsteps. Joseph certainly invested his time and efforts into Jesus’ life. Jesus knew all the sacrifices Joseph made and the hardships he endured in order to honor God. No matter what circumstance may come our way, when we take time to listen to God and obey, He will bring us through and fulfill His purpose.
Scripture – Mt 1:18-24
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace planned to dismiss her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
We often ask for a gift receipt with our Christmas purchases so that the recipient can return the gifts if they so desire. However, in life, we often get some things we don’t want that cannot be returned; yet, when we trust God for the future we can find a way through whatever situation we face. We can learn a great deal from Joseph’s obedience. Joseph listened when God spoke. Had he not paid attention to the message sent from God, we could all be in for eternal devastation. We know that God had a plan and made a way, but the cooperation of those he chose was essential. The angel, first, instructs Joseph to not be afraid. No matter how hard a situation may be or how hopeless it may seem, don’t fall victim to your fears and assume the worst. The one who loves you most, God, is with you. Whatever follows, whatever you are facing, you can know that with God anything and everything is possible. Next, take a risk. The angel tells Joseph to take Mary as his wife. Sometimes you have to step into a situation in order to find a way out. It may seem as though you are wading into a no-win conclusion, but God has the final word and if he is leading you, you will find your way. Lastly, the angel tells Joseph to receive Mary’s child, the Son of God, as his own. Assume responsibility for this baby. You must forge ahead with strength and confidence in the One who is calling you to obey. Joseph listened and did exactly what God asked him to do.
Have you ever received a gift you didn’t want? Did you return it? If not, what did you do with it? Have you ever found out that something you didn’t want at the time was a blessing? What is your initial reaction when you face an unexpected and seemingly awful situation? How does God speak to you? When does God speak to you? Where do you go when you need to hear from God? What risk have you taken at God’s direction? How did it turn out? Are you listening to God?
Ask God to speak to you about what you are facing. Make time to listen. Be obedient to Him, even if it’s not what you want.
Prayer – (Taken in part from The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr)
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Help me to listen for your voice and accept your divine providence even when I don’t understand. Guide me as I move ahead in faith and help me to be obedient to you. In Jesus Name I pray, amen.